Jestina Mukoko still missing, another ZPP field officer arrested

By Violet Gonda
4 December 2008

The Director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) Jestina Mukoko, is still missing, a day after she was abducted from her home in the early hours of Wednesday morning. The crackdown on the political violence monitoring group intensified on Thursday when a field officer with the ZPP, Pascal Gonzo, was arrested in Nyanga. A lawyer has been dispatched to Nyanga from Mutare to find out the reason for the arrest.

Meanwhile, Lawyers for Human Rights in Harare spent the day searching for Mukoko in various police stations, such as Matapi, Harare Central and Norton, but could not find her.

Lawyer Otto Saki said: “We have searched high and low at all police stations you’d expect someone arrested would be taken to or detained, but we have not been able to locate her.”

Surprisingly the police have been ‘cooperating’ with lawyers. Saki said it is not clear if the police are being genuine or if they are deliberately covering their tracks.

The civic leader and former television personality was kidnapped in a pre-dawn raid at her Norton home by a group of 15 armed men who identified themselves as from the police Law and Order section. She was taken away still wearing her nightdress and was not allowed to get her shoes or spectacles.

Mukoko’s abduction has received much response from Zimbabwean and International human rights groups, who are concerned about the on-going persecution of rights defenders by the Mugabe regime. The ZPP has been documenting rights abuses across the country, a topic that the regime would like to cover up.

However, the kidnapping of innocent civilians is not new in Zimbabwe, and the excellent response from concerned groups about Mukoko’s abduction highlights the fact that more concern appears to be expressed when it is a ‘prominent individual’ who disappears.

The whereabouts of 14 MDC activists and a two-year old baby are still unknown more than a month since they disappeared. And only last Tuesday MDC activist Chris Dlamini and another person known as Baba vaSarudzayi were abducted from their homes in Harare and Norton respectively in the same manner as Mukoko, but there has been less of an outcry over these disappearances.

Beatings and arrests of members of pressure groups such as the Women of Zimbabwe Arise, the National Constitutional Assembly and the ZCTU are rampant, and yet we are still to see Zimbabweans registering their anger en masse.

Political analyst Dr John Makumbe says it’s not easy to challenge the brutal Mugabe regime but, “organisers of street demonstrations have to first of all convince the people that it is right to be killed, it is right to be injured, it is right to be locked in a nasty cell in Matapi. And if you don’t convince people mentally along those lines, you will not mobilise them.”

The other Zimbabweans still missing are:

1. Concillia Chinanzvavana, the MDC Mashonaland West provincial
Chairperson of the Women's Assembly, a former parliamentary candidate for Zvimba South and a member of the MDC National Council.
2. Her husband, Emmanuel Chinanzvana, who is a councillor for Ward 25 in Zvimba South.
3. Fidelis Chiramba, Zvimba South district chairperson, who stood as an MDC senatorial candidate for Zvimba in the March 29 elections.
4. Ernest Mudimu, MDC parliamentary candidate for Zvimba North in the March 29 elections.
5. Fanwell Tembo, MDC Zvimba South youth organiser.
6. Terry Musona, MDC deputy provincial secretary.
7. Lloyd Tarumbwa, MDC activist.
8. Violet Mupfuranhehwe, wife to MDC Zvimba South youth chairperson – Collen Mutemagawo.
9. Collen Mutemagawo, MDC Zvimba South youth chairperson.
10. A two year-old child belonging to Mupfuranhehwe and Mutemagawo.
11. Pieat Kaseke, MDC activist.
12. Gwenzi Kahiya, MDC activist.
13. Tawanda Bvumo, MDC activist from Chitungwiza.
14. Agrippa Kakonda, MDC activist.
15. Larry Gaka, MDC activist.

More Zimbabweans need to speak out against the atrocities taking place. A two year old child has been missing for the past month, yet where is the international condemnation of this act?


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